Non-Vegan Beauty Ingredients You Need To Know

written by Lindsay Patton


A great next step in your vegan journey is to swap out your beauty routine for vegan cosmetics and cruelty-free brands


Yes, there are many different levels of veganism. From cutting animal products out from your diet to your beauty routine and fashion choices, there are so many ways you can incorporate vegan principles into your lifestyle!

The tricky part about making the swap is knowing which non-vegan beauty ingredients to look out for. It’s easy for animal products to hide in ingredients, which is why we’ve compiled five commonly known non-vegan ingredients so you’re better aware of what’s in your cosmetics.



Is collagen vegan? 

Collagen is a protein found in bones, skin, muscles, tendons and ligaments, making most collagen non-vegan. The protein has seen a huge boost in the wellness industry and has benefits such as joint cushioning, filtration, muscle support and structure to skin, bones, tendons, fibrous cartilage, connective tissue and teeth.

If collagen’s main ingredient is an animal product, then what is vegan collagen? Well, scientists found a way to create vegan collagen via genetically modified yeast and bacteria. In addition to its health benefits, vegan collagen is also less expensive, has a lower risk of allergies and has an overall higher safety profile.

When picking out a collagen beauty product, make sure “vegan” and “cruelty free” are clearly written on the label. If not, chances are likely you’re buying an animal product.


Is glycerin vegan?

Glycerin typically uses animal fat and is a key ingredient in moisturizers, which can make looking for vegan beauty products intimidating. Luckily, there is plant-derived glycerin available.

The ingredient is beneficial for skin because it attracts moisture and pulls in water to the skin. If you live in an area that has harsh winters, vegan glycerin will be your best friend at fighting dryness. Vegan glycerin is created with vegetable oils and using pressure and water, the fatty acids split away from the glycerin.



Is casein vegan?

Casein is one of the most tricky non-vegan ingredients because it is often found in dairy-free cheeses. (Yep, we’re scratching our heads, too!)

Casein accounts for 80 percent of the protein found in milk, which is obviously an animal product and not vegan. The protein is used to give cheese — including non-dairy cheese — its stretchy consistency. It is also found in many nutritional supplements and protein powders. While there are casein-free products available, there is not a vegan alternative to casein itself. Our advice is to scan every label for this sneaky ingredient. 


Is shellac vegan?

Shellac is a resin secreted by the female lac bug and is used as a natural primer, wood finish, food glaze, varnish, and, in the beauty world, nail polish topcoat.

Shellac is not considered vegan because the resin is technically an animal product of the lac bug. If you enjoy maintaining polished nails, we recommend picking up nail polish that substitutes shellac with zein, a protein found in maize.

Not only is zein vegan, but it’s also much more environmentally friendly. For example, the lac bug harvesting process is almost always deadly for the creatures, and 300,000 bugs are needed to produce two pounds of shellac.



Is beeswax vegan?

Honey and beeswax products are extremely popular in the wellness world, however, they are not vegan. The “is honey vegan?” debate has been happening for a while, and there are vegans who do consume bee products.

The reality is that honey and beeswax are still animal products and are not vegan. The good news is that vegans can still get the moisturizing benefits of beeswax through plant-based alternatives. Candelilla, carnauba, soy and bayberry waxes replicate beeswax in common beauty and household items like candles, lip balm, mascara and more. Plant oils like olive and argan oils are also great moisturizing substitutes.



Like reading labels for food, the labels on cosmetics will be your best friend for determining whether a product is vegan or not.

As we mentioned in a previous post, always be on the lookout for a “vegan” or “cruelty free” stamp on your products. These stamps mean the product is 100 percent vegan and/or cruelty free, taking the label searching and guesswork out for you.

Additionally, you can shop at The Vegan Warehouse’s beauty and makeup collections. All products on our website are certified vegan and cruelty free



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